Red Cross of Constantine

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The breast jewels (medals) worn by members of the English jurisdiction of the Order. RCC-breastjewels.JPG
The breast jewels (medals) worn by members of the English jurisdiction of the Order.

The Red Cross of Constantine, or more formally the Masonic and Military Order of the Red Cross of Constantine and the Appendant Orders of the Holy Sepulchre and of St John the Evangelist, is a Christian fraternal order of Freemasonry. Candidates for the order must already be members of Craft Freemasonry (lodge) and Royal Arch Freemasonry (chapter); they must also be members of the Christian religion, and proclaim their belief in the Christian doctrine of the Holy Trinity. [1]

Contents

The Masonic and Military Order of the Red Cross of Constantine is a three-degree Order of masonry, and with its "Appendant Orders" a total of five degrees are conferred within this system. Installation as a “Knight of the Red Cross of Constantine” is admission to the Order’s first degree. There are two more degrees which follow, and also the two other distinct Orders of Masonry (both Christian in character) which are under the control of each national (or regional) Grand Imperial Conclave of the Order.

The Order of the Red Cross of Constantine

The Cross fleury with IHSV, symbol of the Order of the Red Cross of Constantine. Badge-knight-of-rcc.gif
The Cross fleury with IHSV, symbol of the Order of the Red Cross of Constantine.

First Degree – Knight-Mason

On admission to the Order a member becomes a Knight-Mason, or a Knight of the Red Cross of Constantine. This ceremony is known as installation, and is performed in a ‘Conclave’. A Conclave is the regular unit of this Order, and the name for any assembly of members of the Order’s first degree. The ceremony is short and simple, but teaches valuable moral lessons to the candidate, based upon the story of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, [2] and the Battle of the Milvian Bridge.

Second Degree – Priest-Mason (or Installed Eusebius)

On election to serve as Viceroy (the second in command of a Conclave), a member must be admitted to the second degree, by which ceremony he becomes a Venerable Priest-Mason, or an Installed Eusebius. This ceremony is performed in a ‘College’ of Priests-Mason. A College is the name for any assembly of members of the Order’s second degree. The ceremony is highly spiritual in nature, and incorporates more overtly religious symbolism and ritual. Having received this degree the Installed Eusebius or Priest-Mason is entitled to serve as Viceroy in his own, or any other, Conclave or College. In general this degree may only be conferred on those elected to serve as Viceroy of a Conclave, although exceptions are possible by dispensation.

Third Degree – Prince-Mason

On election to serve as Sovereign (the leader of a Conclave), a member must be admitted to the third degree, by which ceremony he becomes a Perfect Prince-Mason. The ceremony is performed in a ‘Senate’ of Princes-Mason. A Senate is the name for any assembly of members of the Order’s third degree. Having received this degree the Prince-Mason is entitled to serve as Sovereign in his own, or any other, Conclave or Senate. Except by dispensation, this degree is only ever conferred on those elected as Sovereign. As with all masonic degrees, it may only be conferred on a person once - therefore a person becoming Sovereign for a second time, or in a different Conclave, would be appointed and installed into office, and would not go for a second time through the full degree ceremony.

The Appendant Orders

The Jerusalem cross within a circle and cross, symbol of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre. Badge-knight-of-holysepulchre.gif
The Jerusalem cross within a circle and cross, symbol of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre.
The crowned eagle, symbol of the Order of Saint John the Evangelist. Badge-knight-of-stjohn.jpg
The crowned eagle, symbol of the Order of Saint John the Evangelist.

Two additional Christian Orders of Masonry are under the control of the Grand Imperial Conclaves (national ruling bodies) of the Red Cross of Constantine. One is the Order of the Holy Sepulchre and the other is the Order of St John the Evangelist. Each of these Orders consists of a single degree or ceremony, and although the two Orders are conferred separately, they are usually conferred on the same day, one straight after the other. It is a rule of most jurisdictions that a member of the first degree of the Red Cross of Constantine must subsequently take these two Appendant Orders, before he may be considered qualified to proceed to the second and third degrees of the Red Cross of Constantine.

The Order of the Holy Sepulchre

The Masonic Order should not be confused with the identically named Order of the Holy Sepulchre within the Roman Catholic Church. Although both Orders recall the same historical events, there is no actual connection between them. The Masonic Order of the Holy Sepulchre has a long and complex ritual of symbolic meaning, based upon the legend of knights guarding the supposed place of burial of Jesus Christ. Both the Masonic and ecclesiastical Orders take the Jerusalem Cross as their symbol, but whereas the ecclesiastical Order displays this cross in red on a white shield, [3] the Masonic Order displays the cross within a circle set at the centre of a Cross potent; on the jewel (medal) of the Order, this badge is further enclosed within a black and gold lozenge. [4] A meeting of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre takes place in a ‘Sanctuary’, [5] and the presiding officer is called the 'Prelate'.

The Order of St John the Evangelist

This Order is conferred in a short ceremony of an overtly Christian character; it is common for the Order of St John the Evangelist to be conferred on the same day as the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, one ceremony occurring straight after the other. A meeting of the Order of St John the Evangelist takes place in a ‘Commandery’, [5] and the presiding officer is called the 'Commander'. The jewel of the Order of St John the Evangelist features a silver eagle with its wings extended, to which a crown is added in reference to the role of Commander, or any member of the Order who is a current or past Commander. The eagle is a traditional symbol of St John the Evangelist. [6]

History

The position of the Red Cross of Constantine among the Masonic appendant bodies in England and Wales Structure of Masonic appendant bodies in England and Wales.jpg
The position of the Red Cross of Constantine among the Masonic appendant bodies in England and Wales

Since at least the 18th century, Freemasonry has incorporated symbols and rituals of several Medieval military orders in a number of Masonic bodies, most notably, in the "Red Cross of Constantine" (derived from the Military Constantinian Order), the "Order of Malta" (derived from the Sovereign Military Order of Malta), and the "Order of the Temple" (derived from the historical Knights Templar), the latter two featuring prominently in the York Rite.

Tracing the precise origins of these Orders has proved problematic to historians, not least due to the large number of fraternal organisations whose titles include, or have historically included, the phrase "Red Cross". It seems likely that the Order of the Red Cross of Constantine was being worked in England by 1780, but following several re-organisations the earliest documented date of the Order in its present form is 1865, when its constitution was formally established by Robert Wentworth Little. [7] In time it became one of the ten 'additional' Masonic Orders (or families of Orders) controlled from a common headquarters at Mark Masons' Hall, London. Following the establishment of Conclaves in overseas nations, a number of sovereign foreign Grand Imperial Councils (ruling bodies) have been established.

International extent

The Order of the Red Cross of Constantine operates around the world in more than 40 different nations. All regular jurisdictions trace their historical origin to the Grand Imperial Conclave for England and Wales. The following table shows the countries in which the Order is active, and the national or state jurisdiction responsible for the Order in that country.

CountryJurisdiction (Grand Imperial Conclave - "GIC")Notes
Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia
  • GIC for NSW and ACT
  • GIC for Queensland
  • GIC for South Australia
  • GIC for Victoria
  • GIC for Western Australia
Uniquely, Australia has separate State jurisdictions, for each mainland State.
No national GIC exists.
Flag of Tasmania.svg  Australia (Tasmania) GIC of ScotlandTasmania Division, of the GIC of Scotland, in the sole authority on Tasmania.
Flag of the Bahamas.svg  Bahamas
  • GIC for England & Wales & its Divisions & Conclaves overseas
  • GIC of Scotland
English Conclaves belong to Jamaica Division.
Scottish Conclaves belong to Caribbean Division.
Flag of Barbados.svg  Barbados
  • GIC for England & Wales & its Divisions & Conclaves overseas
  • GIC of Scotland
English Conclaves administered from London.
Scottish Conclaves belong to Caribbean Division.
Flag of Belgium (civil).svg  Belgium GIC for England & Wales & its Divisions & Conclaves overseasBenelux Division
Flag of Benin.svg  Benin GIC for BeninEstablished on 24 May 2017 out of the former Benin Division of the GIC for France.
Flag of Brazil.svg  Brazil GIC for England & Wales & its Divisions & Conclaves overseasConclaves administered from London.
Flag of Bulgaria.svg  Bulgaria GIC for England & Wales & its Divisions & Conclaves overseasConclaves administered from London.
Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada GIC of CanadaThere are also two Conclaves in British Columbia under the GIC of Scotland.
Flag of Croatia.svg  Croatia GIC for Croatia
Flag of Cyprus.svg  Cyprus GIC for CyprusThere is also one Conclave (Akritas Conclave No 14, Nicosia) controlled by the GIC for Greece. [8]
Flag of Denmark.svg  Denmark The RCC is recognised as being controlled by the Swedish Rite Grand Lodge of Denmark
Flag of England.svg  England GIC for England & Wales & its Divisions & Conclaves overseas
Flag of Finland.svg  Finland GIC for Finland
Flag of France.svg  France GIC for France
Flag of Germany.svg  Germany
  • GIC of Germany
  • GIC of Scotland
The German GIC has jurisdiction across the country. Additionally, there are (by mutual consent) three Conclaves still operating as a Division under the GIC of Scotland (one each in Sigillum, Berlin, and Bremen).
Flag of Greece.svg  Greece GIC for Greece & its Conclaves abroad
Flag of Guatemala.svg  Guatemala United GIC of the USA, Mexico, & the PhilippinesDivision of Mexico & Guatemala
Guinea (region) GIC for the Gulf of GuineaControls Conclaves throughout the region, from Togo to Gabon.
Not currently recognised as regular by the GIC for England.
Flag of Guyana.svg  Guyana
  • GIC for England & Wales & its Divisions & Conclaves overseas
  • GIC of Scotland
English Conclaves administered from London.
Scottish Conclaves belong to Caribbean Division.
Flag of Hong Kong.svg  Hong Kong GIC for England & Wales & its Divisions & Conclaves overseasConclaves administered from London.
Flag of India.svg  India GIC for England & Wales & its Divisions & Conclaves overseasConclaves administered from London.
Flag of Italy.svg  Italy GIC for ItalyExcept the island of Sicily.
Flag of Sicily (revised).svg  Italy (Sicily) United GIC of the USA, Mexico, & the PhilippinesThe American jurisdiction claims authority over the island of Sicily. [9]
Flag of Jamaica.svg  Jamaica GIC for England & Wales & its Divisions & Conclaves overseasJamaica Division
Flag of Kenya.svg  Kenya GIC for England & Wales & its Divisions & Conclaves overseasConclaves administered from London.
Flag of Luxembourg.svg  Luxembourg GIC for England & Wales & its Divisions & Conclaves overseasBenelux Division
Flag of Madagascar.svg  Madagascar GIC for FranceMadagascar Division
Flag of Malaysia.svg  Malaysia GIC for England & Wales & its Divisions & Conclaves overseasConclaves administered from London.
Flag of Malta.svg  Malta GIC for England & Wales & its Divisions & Conclaves overseasConclaves administered from London.
Flag of Mauritius.svg  Mauritius GIC for MauritiusEstablished in October 2019 out of the former Mauritius Division of the GIC for France.
Flag of Mexico.svg  Mexico United GIC of the USA, Mexico, & the PhilippinesDivision of Mexico & Guatemala
Flag of the Netherlands.svg  Netherlands GIC for England & Wales & its Divisions & Conclaves overseasBenelux Division
Flag of New Zealand.svg  New Zealand GIC for New Zealand
Flag of Norway.svg  Norway The RCC is recognised as being controlled by the Swedish Rite Grand Lodge of Norway
Flag of Papua New Guinea.svg  Papua New Guinea GIC for England & Wales & its Divisions & Conclaves overseasConclaves administered from London.
Flag of the Philippines.svg  Philippines United GIC of the USA, Mexico, & the Philippines
Flag of Romania.svg  Romania GIC for England & Wales & its Divisions & Conclaves overseas
Flag of Scotland.svg  Scotland GIC of Scotland
Flag of Singapore.svg  Singapore GIC for England & Wales & its Divisions & Conclaves overseasConclaves administered from London.
Flag of Slovenia.svg  Slovenia GIC for ItalyItalian conclaves in Slovenia are due to establish an autonomous Grand Imperial Conclave.
Flag of South Africa.svg  South Africa GIC for England & Wales & its Divisions & Conclaves overseasEastern Cape Division
Natal Division
Transvaal, Orange Free State, & Northern Cape Division
There is also a single Conclave in Johannesburg under the GIC of Scotland.
Flag of Sweden.svg  Sweden The RCC is recognised as being controlled by the Swedish Rite Grand Lodge of Sweden
Flag of Trinidad and Tobago.svg  Trinidad and Tobago GIC of ScotlandCaribbean Division
Flag of the United States.svg  United States
(except Maine)
United GIC of the USA, Mexico, & the PhilippinesAll US territory except the State of Maine.
Flag of the United States.svg  United States
Flag of Maine.svg  Maine
GIC for the State of MaineMaine remains independent, unlike other States. [10]
Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg  Wales GIC for England & Wales & its Divisions & Conclaves overseas

North America

The Order had arrived in Canada by 1869 (McLeod Moore Conclave No 13, St John's, New Brunswick), with nine more Conclaves warranted in 1870 (one in Montreal, and the others in the Ontarian cities of Hamilton, London, Peterborough, Toronto, Kingston, Orillia, Trenton, and Belleville) by the English Grand Imperial Conclave, [11] :55 which had appointed Colonel W. J. B. MacLeod Moore as the Chief Inspector General of the Order for the Dominion of Canada. [12] Although the Canadian members were highly instrumental in introducing the Order into the United States, where it sought independence within just months, the Order in Canada remained under English control for twenty years, until the Grand Imperial Council of Canada was established in 1890.

The Grand Imperial Council of the United States of America, Mexico, and the Philippines has jurisdiction throughout the United States, except the State of Maine. According to its own centenary history, the first American Conclave was United States Premier Conclave No 38 at Washington, Pennsylvania (now Conclave No 1 in America). [12] However, the records of the English Grand Conclave show warrant No 38 applying to St James' Conclave at Maitland, in Canada. Both sources agree that it was consecrated on 14 December 1870. The English records show the first Conclaves consecrated in the United States to have been Cleveland Conclave No 39 at Cleveland, Ohio, and Cincinnati Conclave No 40 at Cincinnati, Ohio, both consecrated in 1871. [11] :55–56

In 1871 and 1872 a large number of Conclaves were consecrated in Pennsylvania, Illinois, and New York, [11] :56–58 and during 1872 sovereign Grand Imperial Councils were founded in all three States, starting with Pennsylvania on 14 June 1872. In the following three years, Grand Imperial Conclaves were established in the states of Massachusetts, Michigan, Kentucky, Indiana, Vermont, Maine and New Jersey. [12] In 1907 most of the individual jurisdictions were united into the GIC of the United States of America, and in 1946 the name was changed to reflect the operation of Conclaves in Mexico and the Philippines. [13]

In 1894, the Grand Imperial Council of Pennsylvania had withdrawn from the Union and established a rival jurisdiction. The two rival authorities, having long co-existed, entered into dialogue in the 1950s, and were reconciled and reunited on 18 February 1958, [12] [13] into the single jurisdiction for almost the whole of the United States.

The Red Cross Masons of Maine have chosen to maintain their independence, with their own Grand Imperial Council. The State of Vermont also had its own independent Grand Imperial Council until 1997; in that year Vermont voted to close its independent body, and to be incorporated into the United GIC. [14]

Former jurisdictions

There is a small number of places where the Order has commenced work, but subsequently withdrawn, the earliest being the British Crown dependencies of Jersey and Guernsey. Doyle Conclave No 7 in Court Place, Guernsey, and Concord Conclave No 8 in St Helier, Jersey, were consecrated in 1868 at a time when the Order had just 6 Conclaves (4 in London and 2 in Edinburgh), but they were short-lived, and both had been removed from the role of Conclaves by 1923. A similar story applies to the British overseas territory of Gibraltar, where Mediterranean Conclave No 11 was consecrated in 1870, but did not survive. [15] :58

In addition, a number of Conclaves were founded in territories of the British Empire or later British dependencies, but failed to survive the changing demographics of independence. Examples of these include Aden Conclave at Aden in modern-day Yemen, Indus Valley Conclave at Mooltan in modern-day Pakistan, St Louis & St Cyprian Conclave in Tunis, Tunisia, Excelsior Conclave at Moulmein in Burma, Lanka Conclave in Sri Lanka, and Rhodesia Conclave in Mufulira in northern Zambia. [15] :61–65

In 1942 the Grand Imperial Council of Scotland chartered a new Conclave to meet in Belfast, Northern Ireland. However, following complaints from the Irish masonic authorities the conclave was never consecrated. [16] There remains no Red Cross masonry in Ireland.

See also

Original chivalric orders

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References

  1. Jackson, Keith (1980). Beyond the Craft (First ed.). Shepperton, Middlesex: Lewis Masonic. ISBN   0-85318-248-5.
  2. Details here of the basis of the ritual story, and the history of Constantine.
  3. See the website of the Order.
  4. Illustrated at this site.
  5. 1 2 "Freemasonry Today periodical (Issue Winter 2003)". UGLE. Archived from the original on 2010-09-27. Retrieved 2010-09-24.
  6. See "art" section of his entry at The Catholic Encyclopedia on-line.
  7. These dates, names, and details are rehearsed on this history page, written by the Hampshire Division of the Order.
  8. See GIC for Greece List of Conclaves.
  9. See Eboracum Conclave website.
  10. See RCC American history here.
  11. 1 2 3 Report of Proceedings and Year Book. London: Grand Imperial Conclave of England & Wales. 2013. ISBN   978-0-85318-435-5.
  12. 1 2 3 4 Duncan, Herbert, ed. (1972). "Historical Sketch" (PDF). United Grand Imperial Council of the United States, Mexico, & The Philippines. Retrieved 29 April 2020.
  13. 1 2 "The History of the Order". Grand Imperial Conclave for Croatia. Retrieved 29 April 2020.
  14. Details on the final page of this York Rite publication.
  15. 1 2 "Roll of Conclaves". Report of Proceedings and Yearbook (2020 ed.). London: Mark Masons Hall Ltd. 4 December 2020. ISBN   978-1-913974-00-8.
  16. "Conclaves". Roll of the Grand Conclave (2018-2019 ed.). Perth, Scotland: Grand Imperial Council of Scotland. 2018. p. 10.